Publishing sector and independent bookstores assure that they would face a crisis

Publishing sector and independent bookstores assure that they would face a crisis
Publishing sector and independent bookstores assure that they would face a crisis

A few days ago, in Commission VI of the House of Representatives, bill number 427 was approved in its first debate, which seeks to strengthen the book ecosystem, in terms of production, marketing, circulation and conservation. Is about a reform to what is known as the Book Law and would seek, among other things, to establish a single sales priceexpanding tax exemptions, improving public procurement practices, regulating piracy practices and unfair competition on digital platforms, in addition to incorporating economic and tax incentives.

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However, several independent booksellers’ associations and publishers requested its archive, stating that they were not consulted. Ana María Aragón, director of the Casa Tomada bookstore, spoke with EL TIEMPO and stated that There are no substantial changes in the bill that would benefit the operation or creation of more bookstores. “One of the biggest problems is that there is unfair competition in the chain when publishers and distributors offer a discount margin for direct sales at fairs or institutions, which ranges between 20 to 33 percent, with the bookstores’ margin being 35 percent, on average. This way it is impossible for us to compete,” he says.

In Colombia, the price of a book is set by publishers and distributors. “It has always been like this,” says Aragón. “In recent years, many foreign e-commerce companies have violated these prices by setting the price themselves and giving discounts to customers that can range from 10 to 70 percent. We do not know how real the assigned price is.”

Aspects of the 3rd. Festival of independent Colombian publishers – Grita, organized by the Fondo de Cultura Económicz.

Photo:FCE of Colombia.

Approval in the first debate

The project is filed in the sixth committee of the Chamber, and its speaker is representative Julián López, of the U Party, who reiterates that The purpose is “to promote and strengthen the book industry in Colombia, to ensure that it is read more in the country; generate incentives so that the publishing industry becomes more empowered”.

“We want to hold a public hearing for the first week of August, so that we can open the spectrum and include the different players in the industry, we want everyone to feel included in this bill,” he adds.

However, So far, there have been no spaces for unions to express their discontent.. In fact, the book sector suggests that many of the problems that this project attempts to solve could be addressed through plans and policies of the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Knowledge—who have not commented on the matter—, together with the advice of the National Book Council.

Felipe González, president of the Colombian Chamber of Independent Publishing, emphasized that they were not listened to during the project development process. “The book market in Spanish is very complex because there are many producing countries and there is a very large concentration of Spanish publishers,” he said. According to González, by not clearly defining that a book is Colombian, there is a risk that “books published anywhere in the world can be published here and that there is no tool to help strengthen the local publishing industry.”

Casa Tomada Bookstore.

Photo:Cesar Melgarejo

The representative hopes that the bill will be approved in December or no later than June 2025. Meanwhile, an open invitation will be extended to booksellers, editors, distributors and other actors in the book ecosystem so that they can express their perceptions and proposals. in terms of the editorial process, the phenomenon of reading and the marketing of books in the country.

ELENA CHAFYRTTH

Cultural journalist EL TIEMPO

 
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